NatWest has published the most common financial scams carried out against bank customers, as figures reveal that thousands are falling victim every year.
According to its records, nearly 7,000 people have been defrauded by scammers since the beginning of 2016.
Around a third of these cases involved goods failing to turn up, generally from online auctions and marketplaces. Customers, says NatWest, should always check the item description carefully and read the website's dispute resolution policy before buying.
It's also vitally important to use the website's official payment services, such as PayPal, and never be persuaded to pay via direct bank transfer away from the site.
Another common scam is holiday fraud, which the City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau says costs travellers more than £11 million a year.
In one recent case, a family of eight was left stranded in New York in freezing temperatures after the holiday apartment they'd booked turned out not to exist. In this case, they'd abided by app the payment rules and were given a refund and compensation by the holiday company concerned.
Businesses are often also hit by financial scams, most notably invoice fraud. This happens when scammers send a bill that appears to be from an existing trading partner and that claims billing details have changed. This type of fraud, says NatWest, can cost customers an average of £30,000 a time.
"We know scammers can be convincing and they work round the clock to persuade their victims to part with money," Les Matheson, NatWest chief executive of personal and business banking, told a National Trading Standards conference in Westminster.
"We have hundreds of people working 24/7 to detect and stop fraud, but it's very important that, as individuals and businesses, we know how to protect ourselves."
Customers pay for goods or services but never receive them from the seller.
2. Advance fee fraud
Fraudsters ask for an advance or up-front payment for goods, services and/or financial gains that never materialise.
3. Spoof payment requests
People receive a fraudulent request, purporting to be from someone senior in a company or a client, for payment or drawdown of funds.
4. Invoice fraud
Businesses are tricked into believing an invoice is from a trusted trading partner. The fraudsters claim that their payment information has changed and that money should be paid into a new account.
5. Holiday scam
Customers book a holiday, usually online, to find out later that the holiday doesn't exist.
Victims of scams and fraud
Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here.
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here.
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here.
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here.
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.